What we’re reading

unnamed4This year marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta–perhaps simultaneously one of the most cited and most often forgotten documents in legal history. The New Yorker‘s “The Rule of History” examines the document’s relevance throughout history and its lasting legacy in Western society, particularly the United States.

As China continues to urbanize and works towards its goal of having 60 percent of the country’s population living in urban centers by 2020, many citizens have been fighting to maintain their old way of life. The Atlantic‘s photo essay, “And Then There Was One,” documents several cases of “nail houses,” buildings whose owners have resisted selling their land to the government. The pictures show lone houses standing in the middle of construction sites, a phenomenon that can be seen all across the country.

Netflix has had one hell of a year so far, having just launched Daredevil, its 17th original series of 2015 (!). The company plans to air over 320 hours of original material in 2015–a threefold increase from last year. The New York Times explored the future of the company and the changing nature of television programming with Reed Hastings, Netflix’s chief executive.

With the recent leak of the first four episodes of the latest season of Game of Thrones, many fans are wondering what the show would be like if it were released all at once a la Netflix. Though this doesn’t seem likely anytime soon, we can read about one phe’s quest to watch seasons one through four in one sitting. Vice News’ Allie Conti goes through all of the ups and downs, one episode at a time.  Continue Reading


The Netflix Files: “Virunga” is planet of the (bipedal) apes

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One of Virunga National Park’s ranger lookout stations.

Virunga National Park is home to some of the world’s last mountain gorillas. Located in the far east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga faces threats from poachers, armed rebel groups, refugees, and an unscrupulous British oil company, all of whom are competing for the park’s precious mineral resources. The documentary film Virunga (available on Netflix) follows the intrepid park rangers as they struggle to defend the park and its gorillas.

Virunga’s park rangers can only be described as militant conversationalists. They have to be in order to hold any power in a region infamous for its violent clashes between armed rebel groups from the Congo and neighboring Rwanda. The opening scene of the film finds a legion of rangers trekking through a field with AK-47s slung across their backs and rocket launchers swinging at their sides. Gunshots explode in the distance, and the rangers charge through the brush with guns at the ready, looking more like an advancing army than a group of friendly naturalists. The rangers find an improvised poachers’ camp and burn it. Continue Reading


New to Netflix: December 2014

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Netflix has announced new movies and TV shows that will be making their streaming debut this December. As a way to look forward to lazy days indoors over winter break, or as a way to put off studying for finals a little bit longer, here is a list of all the titles coming to Netflix in the month of December 2014.

Movies

A Knight’s Tale (2001) (Dec. 1)
Inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, this medieval adventure film follows a peasant who is pretending to be a knight to compete in jousting tournaments. Rotten Tomatoes describes this as “Rocky on horseback.” *Dun… dun dun dun. Dun dun dun. Dun dun duuuuuuuun.* 

Almost Famous (2000) (Dec. 1)
Directed and written by Cameron Crowe, this comedy-drama film tells the coming-of-age story of a teenage Rolling Stone journalist following the fictitious 70s band Stillwater.

American Beauty (1999) (Dec. 1)
Suggested to be a satire of the American middle class ideals of beauty and satisfaction, this drama tells the story of office worker Lester Burnham, who falls into a midlife crisis, enamored by his daughter’s teenage friend.

Bewitched (2005) (Dec. 1)

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Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell in Bewitched (2005)

Based on the 1964-72 TV show of the same name, Bewitched stars Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. Ferrell plays Jack Wyatt, a struggling actor desperate for a role. Jack agrees to star in a film version of the TV series Bewitched (so meta). Nicole Kidman as Isabel Bigelow is cast as the female lead alongside Jack, playing the witch-turned-housewife Samantha. Nobody knows that Isabel is really a witch (OH BOY).

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The Netflix Files: Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?

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I’ll admit this up front: if your main goal in watching Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? (2013) is to arrive at an answer to the titular question, you’ll be disappointed. Almost none of the film’s meandering 88 minutes, if any at all, are devoted to meditations on correlative assessments of height and happiness.

It is hard, in fact, to say what the 88 minutes are devoted to–the movie covers so much ground while moving so slowly that it’s hard to understand, when it ends, how it’s been less than six hours, much less an hour and a half. Some of this impression may come from the altered mental state in which I watched Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?, but that caveat is not at all beside the point, since I can give the film my wholehearted recommendation only to those planning on ingesting herbal enhancements before viewing. Luckily, its availability on Netflix instant play ensures this is a feasible pre-watching activity.

Indeed, Is the Man Who is Tall Happy? is, while perhaps far from stereotypical stoner cinema, an essential entry into the genre. What it is–and I apologize for taking so long to get to the point–is a 90-minute conversation between the linguist Noam Chomsky (calling him a linguist is like calling Da Vinci a painter) and French filmmaker Michel Gondry (whose filmography includes, among others, cult classic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay).

The genesis of the film, Gondry explains at the outset, came from his interest in Chomsky’s ideas dating back to his appearance on “some DVDs [Gondry] picked up at the video store a few years ago.” What DVDs those are, or why any profit-maximizing video store would stock them, is another point entirely, but Gondry quickly goes on to describe Chomsky as “the most important thinker alive,” presented as a quote from no one in particular.

He set out to interview Chomsky–twice, it turns out–and supplement the audio of the interviews with animation because “animation is clearly the interpretation of the author… it’s up to [the audience] to decide if they’re convinced or not.”

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We sat down with American Politics Professor Wendy Schiller to discuss House of Cards

Recently, we interviewed Wendy Schiller, Professor of Political Science, to discuss the latest season of Politics 101 House of Cards. Her Introduction to the American Political Process and The American Presidency courses are favorites among the student body, and she has numerous years of experience working in Washington D.C. with real Frank Underwoods, Doug Stampers, and Jackie Sharps. She first started watching the show after her students raved about it in her various classes. After some Spring Break bingeing, she was ready for the interview. Her wealth of knowledge made for an enlightening and slightly terrifying interview.

Be forewarned: SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. If you haven’t finished the second season, well, I don’t know what you’ve been doing with your life. But also avoid the following interview if you are as emotionally invested in the show as most of its viewers. Without further ado, BlogDailyHerald presents to you an exclusive interview with the one, the only, Wendy Schiller:

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PollerBears: Winter Break 2013

And the band played on.

Congrats! You finished exams, saw some friends (maybe), and then chugged some nondenominational eggnog! Now what? Brown misses you, and we know you all miss Brown, but home does have its creature comforts. Tell BlogDH your favorite winter break pastime in our last poll of the year.

What are you most excited about for winter break?

  • Hanging out with my two BFFs: Netflix and my bed (44%, 184 Votes)
  • SLEEP (26%, 110 Votes)
  • Making an extensive reading list but spending the next hour Facebook stalking instead #FOMO (18%, 73 Votes)
  • Excited? I never want to write another cover letter (10%, 40 Votes)
  • Learn to ski/snowboard (read: hopefully not die) (2%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 416

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